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Category Archives: Films

Related to a film, DVD, VHS, etc.

#askNat – concerning orchestrations from the Help! soundtrack

This week on #askNat I’m bringing up an inquiry from Leo McMichael of Blackwood, NJ concerning the instrumental tracks on the U.S. Help! soundtrack. Leo points out that several of the instrumentals heard in the actual film are not included on the soundtrack. Among others, these include Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” Beethoven’s 9th Symphony “Ode To Joy” and playing over the credits, Gioachino Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.” The score music that is included on the soundtrack LP is credited to the Ken Thorne Orchestra and Leo wants to know if the other tracks heard in the film but not on the album are also Ken Thorne recordings made specifically for Help! or, if not, where would we go to find them.

 

Capitol Records 1965 US soundtrack edition of Help!

Capitol Records 1965 US soundtrack edition of Help!

 

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4 people think this is FAB!

#askNat – concerning Harry Nilsson and The Beatles

Hello to everyone and though I’m not sure when you’ll be reading this, I welcome you anyway to the first #askNat for 2014 and hope you’ve had a Happy New Year! The question I’m addressing this week comes from Curtis Honeycutt of Indianapolis. Back in 2012, Curtis had sent in a previous question concerning a short session for Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats album in 1974, when John Lennon, who was producing the album, was paid a short visit by Paul McCartney (see that entry here). This time Curtis is back with a follow up question specifically about Harry, that reads as follows:

I just watched Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?. It seems like Harry was buddies with all four Beatles in the seventies, including Paul McCartney dropping in on a Nilsson recording session for his album, Pussy Cats, and recording the lackluster A Toot and a Snore in ’74 with John, Harry, Stevie Wonder and others. How important was Harry Nilsson in the lives of each of the Beatles?

Thanks for writing in Curtis. First off I want to clear up for those that don’t know – A Toot and a Snore in ’74 is the title of a bootleg release that contains a recording from Harry’s Pussy Cats session which is the only known recording (mentioned above) in which John Lennon and Paul McCartney played together after the break-up of The Beatles. It was recorded at Burbank Studios in Los Angeles, CA and also includes Linda McCartney, Jesse Ed Davis, Stevie Wonder on keyboards and others. John was producing the Pussy Cats LP at the time and Paul and Linda McCartney dropped in on this first night of the session, which was March 28, 1974. Only a few rehearsals were done that included the rock and roll standards “Stand By Me” and “Lucille.”

 

Harry Nilsson and John Lennon

Harry Nilsson and John Lennon

 

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17 people think this is FAB!

Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “Mother” (‘One To One’ evening show performance, 1972)

Welcome to the Beatles Rarity of the Week. In 1972, WABC-TV reporter Geraldo Rivera won the Peabody Award for his report on the neglect and abuse of mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island. The recognition quickly had him appearing on news programs such as Nightline and 20/20. John Lennon, after catching Rivera’s report, became concerned about the patients at Willowbrook and teamed up with him to organize a benefit concert to raise money for the children.

John Lennon onstage at the One To One Benefit Concerts held at New York City's Madison Square Gardens on August 30, 1972

John Lennon onstage at the One To One Benefit Concerts held at New York City’s Madison Square Gardens on August 30, 1972

 

John planned a performance with himself and Yoko Ono backed by Elephants Memory who had also backed them on their previous release, the double-LP Some Time In New York City. He also recruited other performers to include Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Melanie Safka and Sha-Na-Na. The event, billed as One To One, was held at New York’s Madison Square Garden on August 30th, 1972 and was actually two concerts – an afternoon and evening show. It was John’s first full-length concert since the breakup of The Beatles. Unfortunately it was also to be his last.

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10 people think this is FAB!

Producer Kathy McCabe reflects on the success of Good Ol’ Freda – a new and different kind of Beatles documentary

Good Ol' Freda DVD

Today is the release date of the fascinating new Beatles documentary Good Ol’ Freda on DVD and when last I talked with Producer Kathy McCabe and Director Ryan White (August 2012 interview here) the project was still very much a work in progress. I caught up with Kathy again this week and over the phone, she shared with me some interesting and humorous details about the ups and downs of making the film and her lifelong friendship with Freda Kelly, former Beatles Fan Club Secretary, and the endearing subject of this wonderful film.

To recap: Good Ol’ Freda is about the incredible experiences of Freda Kelly during the 11 years she served as the National Fan Club Secretary for The Beatles. Freda was, however, more than just a secretary. Along with Beatles manager Brian Epstein and The Beatles themselves, she was part of their inner circle and would visit with the family members of each of The Beatles to help them in various ways to cope with their sudden rise to fame.

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12 people think this is FAB!

Beatles Rarity Of The Week – “Baby’s In Black” (‘unsweetened’ Shea Stadium performance, 1965)

Welcome to the Beatles Rarity of the Week. One of the highlights of rock music history was the very first major stadium concert. The act that has the honor of being at the top of the bill for this historic event is The Beatles. Of course, I’m referring to their legendary first Shea Stadium concert in New York City on August 15th, 1965 with 55,600 in attendance. The event is also considered by many Beatles fans as the peak performance of their concert years considering that by 1966 touring had gone sour for the band. The concert was filmed by either twelve or fourteen cameras (depending on what source you believe) for the purpose of producing a television documentary to be titled The Beatles At Shea Stadium.

Paul McCartney (L) and John Lennon (R) share a microphone while performing at the legendary Beatles Shea Stadium concert on August 15th, 1965.

Paul McCartney (L) and John Lennon (R) share a microphone while performing at the legendary Beatles Shea Stadium concert on August 15th, 1965.

 

Legend has it that The Beatles decided on their twelve-song set list backstage just before coming on. That set list went like this: “Twist And Shout,” “She’s A Woman,” “I Feel Fine,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Ticket To Ride,” “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby,” Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Baby’s In Black,” “Act Naturally,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!” and “I’m Down.”

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15 people think this is FAB!

#askNat – concerning a longer version of “Flying”

It’s time for another in the #askNat series and this week I’ve got a message from Patrick Flynn in Washington, DC that I want to share. Read on:

Nat:

I recently came across two “extended” versions of “Flying” on YouTube. One 9.5 minutes long and one almost 12 minutes long. Are these actual alternate extended takes of the song featured on the Magical Mystery Tour film and double EP?

Keep up the great work!

-p

Interesting question Patrick and thanks for writing in. The Beatles had a lot going on over the late summer of 1967. In early September after returning from a trip to Bangor with the news that their manager Brian Epstein was now dead from a drug overdose, they immersed themselves into a new project – a film for television called Magical Mystery Tour. Unlike their previous theatrical films, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, they would not only be writing and performing the music and acting, but would also be writing the script, directing, editing and even performing the “score” for the film as well. I put “score” in quotes because it was not really robust enough to be a real score. In fact, it was largely improvised using Mellotron noises and tape loops as opposed to anything that required any real composition or arrangement efforts.

Colorized aerial photography of mountainous landscape in Iceland, used in the Flying sequence in the Beatles 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour.

Colorized aerial photography of mountainous landscape in Iceland, used in the Flying sequence in the Beatles 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour.

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13 people think this is FAB!